About Kiku Day

Kiku Day PhD (London), MFA (Mills), BA (London)
Ethnomusicologist and jinashi shakuhachi player
Research Fellow, Goldsmiths, University of London

Kiku Day is a shakuhachi player and ethnomusicologist – and a world traveler from Copenhagen, Denmark, who is working at the intersections of performance of traditional shakuhachi music, contemporary music, composition and improvisation, ethnomusicology, history, politics, meditation and writing.
She is a founding member of the European Shakuhachi Society (ESS) for which she served as a chairperson 2009-2019. Together with Michael Soumei Coxall, she initiated the European Shakuhachi Summer School and Festival in 2006 – a festival which is held in a new country every year. Day was furthermore the chair of the World Shakuhachi Festival 2018 held at Goldsmiths, University of London. The World Shakuhachi Festival is the largest gathering of shakuhachi players in the world, and is held approximately quadrennially.

Kiku Day studied shakuhachi with Okuda Atsuya – one of the foremost performers of jinashi shakuhachi – in Tokyo Japan for 11 years before she returned to Europe to study ethnomusicology at SOAS, University of London. She pursued her MFA in Music Performance at Mills College, Oakland, USA. Here she studied new music performance and improvisation on shakuhachi with Fred Frith, Jon Raskin, Joëlle Léandre, Anne LeBaron, Steed Cowart among others. She returned to SOAS in order to pursue her PhD, for which she did research on the construction of the jinashi shakuhachi and collaborated with five composers to research creative collaboration between performer and composer.

Several composers have composed works for her, among others: Roxanna Panufnik; Takahashi Yuji; Frank Denyer; Marisol Jimenez; Marty Regan; Vytautas Germanavičius.

Kiku Day has also been a board member of the Danish National Committee of ICTM (International Council for Traditional Music) 2010-19 and presently serving as the Danish Liaison Officer.

Improvisation with Carlos Zingaro in Lisbon, Portugal. Photo: Suizan Lagrost

Kiku Day lives in Nørre Snede, a small town in the western part of Denmark. She lives at the Meditation Centre Vækstcenteret. (https://ressourcer.vaekstcenteret.dk/english/) where she is with around 80 other people living in a community with spiritual training as the focal point.

She is teaching Zensabo style honkyoku, improvisation and new music in Nørre Snede and Copenhagen, Denmark; Hamburg, Germany and London, UK. She also teaches on Skype.

Photo: Anja Blaksmark


Kiku is born in Harajuku, Tokyo Japan, her mother is from Harajuku and her father from St Louis, USA.

She stayed in Harajuku until she was 5 years old. And then moved to Copenhagen, Denmark. She has since then lived in Japan, USA, UK, New Zealand, Switzerland and also Honduras/Guatemala.